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Judge Rejects Plea Deal in Fatal Drag Race Case

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA – A judge has rejected a plea deal in the case of a 23-year-old Missoula man charged in a drag race that killed one man and injured four other people near Turah.

As part of the deal, Matthew T. Chase agreed to plead guilty to felony criminal endangerment for the Aug. 5, 2008, wreck that killed 25-year-old Jacob Bailey of Clinton. In exchange, prosecutors recommended he receive no prison time.

But District Judge Ed McLean said Wednesday he would sentence Chase to 10 years in prison based on the defendant’s decision to smoke pot in violation of the conditions of his pretrial supervision. Faced with prison time, Chase withdrew his guilty plea and will go to trial instead.

On the morning of the wreck, investigators found Bailey slumped over the driver’s seat of his car. A 19-year-old woman was unconscious in the back seat, and another man was lying on the ground outside of the car. Two teenage girls also were injured.

The teens told investigators they were drag racing Chase when Bailey lost control of his car.

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